Theatre Mirror Reviews - "A Christmas Carol"

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entire contents copyright 2009 by Tony Annicone

"A Christmas Carol"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Company Theatre's holiday presentation this year is Charles Dickens' ''A Christmas Carol". On Christmas Eve, three spirits visit the world's most famous miser, Ebenezer Scrooge, and take him on an unforgettable journey through childhood memories and glimpses of the future. In one ghostly and haunted evening, Scrooge sees the error of his ways and repents just in time to enjoy a glorious Christmas morning. Over these past 30 years, The Company Theatre's production of this timeless Dickens' classic has become a South Shore tradition, with its storybook sets, ghostly special effects and colorful costumes. Directed by Zoe Bradford with expert musical direction by Michael Joseph and gorgeous sets by Jordie Saucerman. The combination of their hard work creates a wonderful telling of this familiar tale for the young and old to enjoy it thoroughly. The close of this show is rewarded with a standing ovation.

The novel written in 1843 is as relevant today as it was back then. Zoe keeps the action of the show in constant motion, having the performers enter and exit thru the audience. She mixes the comic and dramatic moments perfectly together. She obtains many laughs and some tears on the journey of Scrooge's tale. Michael chooses the loveliest Christmas carols of British composers from that time period as well as some original music he created for this show. He leads his 6 piece orchestra and uses a brass group as well as two keyboards. Michael also taught the cast the glorious four part harmony of the group songs which include "Here We Come a Wassailing", "The Gloucester Wassail" and "Coventry Carol". The topnotch choreography is by Sally Ashton Forrest while the plethora of costumes are by Shirley Carney with lighting by Michael Clark Wonson and technical direction by Bob Grazioso.The lovely sets were made by Jordie and Marc Ewart with art work by James Valentin. They have Scrooge and the Ghost of the Past flying on the stage in a spectacular and stunning scene that wins applause at it's expert handling. Another special effect in the show is that it snows in the audience at the close of the show with what feels like real snowflakes. Marc also plays jolly Old Mr. Fezziwig garnering the laughs the role deserves while Jamie Poskitt, a beautiful blonde plays his giggling wife.An excellent song and dance is done by the whole cast in their song "I Saw Three Ships". James plays young Dick and is properly menacing as the ghost of the Future. He is clad all in black walks on stilts and has long skeleton fingernails. He is truly a spectre to behold. Michael Warner who is a much younger man than Scrooge, is excellent in this role as the miserly curmudgeon. He commands the stage as Ebenezer Scrooge. Michael uses his gorgeous tenor voice in the closing song of the show and is exuberant when he awakens alive on Christmas morning. He excels at the comic moments especially when he yells at the people to shut up as they are singing "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" but it is in Fan's death, the break up with Belle and the transformation scene and the death of Tiny Tim scene that the pathos comes pouring across the footlights, leaving the audience in tears. You see how he learns from the past, present and future how to become a better man as he delivers his presents on Christmas Day.

Evan James as Jacob Marley frightens the crowd with his entrance in chains with a smoke filled haze and colorful lighting with ghostly sprites in the background. Evan reenters the stage at one point scaring the crap out of everyone when they think he has left Scrooge for good. The 3 ghost are marvelously played in this version. Christmas past is portrayed by Kris Connelly, a pretty brunette who wears a blond wig, dressed in white and flies with Michael at the end of her first scene which is astonishing and wonderfully done. She chides Scrooge as he watches his younger self loving Christmas as a boy with his sister, Fan, at Fezziwig's party when he fell in love with Belle. Paul Valillancourt is excellent as Boy Scrooge as is Madison Benoit as little Fan. Kris uses a high pitched voice at first and becomes stronger with her line delivery as she brings Scrooge on his journey of enlightenment. Young Scrooge is played wonderfully by 14 year old Tony Beal as is Belle played by the gorgeous brown haired blue eyed Emily Arsenault. Christmas Present is wonderfully played by Matthew Murphy who laughs at and cajoles Scrooge as he shows him the plight of the Cratchit family and how his nephew Fred is spending Christmas. Ryan Barrow plays the jolly nephew, Fred and his beautiful bride to be Bess is played wonderfully by Leslie Comperchio. Christmas Future is played by James who frightens everyone when he shows Scrooge his tombstone.

The funny Mary Beth Murphy plays Mrs. Dilber who is Scrooge's housekeeper. He frightens her at his transformation and she tries to hide under the bed but when he gives her money she hugs him around his waist in a comical manner that left the audience in gales of laughter. She also is a hoot when she tries make some loot of her own by selling his bedclothes in the Old Joe scene with Brendan Smith and Maria Lawler. Jennifer Duval White is touching as Mrs. Jenkins who owes Scrooge money but she feeds the poor with the broth she sells and when Scrooge forgets her debt on Christmas, it is truly a joyous occasion.

The Cractchit family is topnotch in this show.Bob Cractchit played by Paul Chiano, is intimidated by Scrooge's rantings and ravings but he brings the audience to tears in the scene where the family talks about Tiny Tim's death. Paul has a funny snowball scene in the first act that leads to some dire circumstances. Mrs. Crachit is beautifully portrayed by Letitia Riel who defies Bob when he wishes the old miser a Merry Christmas and to raise their glasses to toast him and has a funny scene screaming when Scrooge arrives with a huge turkey on Christmas Day. Rose, Nell and Martha are wonderfully played by Ariana Tomasi, Sophia Campot-Eagan and Abra White. Peter is strongly played by Galen Shrand who elicits tears from the audience as he reads the Bible passage to the family. The pathos of this scene is magnificent and leaves everyone in tears at its poignancy. They also have an excellent ballad they "Suxxex Mummer's Carol" about all the blessings they have even though they are poor they have the love of one another. One of the biggest scene stealers in this show is J.L. Vaillancourt as Tiny Tim. She is 10 years old and has brown hair and blue eyes. Julia tugs at your heartstrings at her excellent portrayal and you really believe her when she utters "God bless us, everyone." So for a fantastic rendition of this classic tale, be sure to catch "A Christmas Carol" at Company Theatre this year. It will definitely get you into the holiday spirit.

"A Christmas Carol" (27 November - 20 December)
@ 30 Accord Park Drive, NORWELL MA
1 (781)871-2797

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide